Dishonesty nearly cost me my life
My name is Andy and I’m an alcoholic, and a grateful alcoholic at that. But that wasn’t always the case. I first came to my home group just under 3 years ago, and I would love to say that I have had continued sobriety throughout, but that just is not the case for me. When I first arrived at AA I had been through hell, my life was a living nightmare, I would wake up, then the proceeding flashbacks of the previous day or so would start to fill me with terror. ‘What had I done?’, ‘where had I been?’, and ‘who must I avoid?’ I would be filled with such dread and anxiety that I had no choice but to drink, and pray for oblivion. I thought I was insane and I felt so lonely although I was rarely alone. I wanted to die. I had a son and responsibilities, but I just could not face life. I hated myself for being what I thought was weak, and the looks of disappointment from people made me despise what I had become. I was a sad lonely broken man.
So, when I attended my first meeting and discovered that I was not the only one who suffered from this torment, and that I had a disease, and even better, that there was a solution, I was filled with a hope that I had never experienced before. ‘I am an alcoholic!’ I said, with great glee, to my parents later that day.
I asked a man to sponsor me that very night and I embarked on what would be the best endeavour that I have ever had the privilege to undertake. I was asked ‘are you willing to go to any lengths to recover?’ I had no idea what this meant but I certainly was desperate, so I said yes. I was given the same suggestions that every newcomer is given and I started working through the steps. The first three steps were simple enough, and I was starting to feel good. For the first time ever I could look at the world and see my place in it. I was excited about the future but I was starting to become full of egotism and arrogance. I let myself believe that it was I who was achieving this great feat of sobriety, I would later learn that that just wasn’t the case, and a hard lesson it would be too.
I started my step 4 with enthusiasm; I had plenty of resentments, so remembering them wouldn’t be a problem. As far as I was concerned the world as a whole had wronged me. I couldn’t understand why the world didn’t recognise my magnificence. Looking back, it’s laughable really, what an insane, pitiful person I had become. Working through my step 4 I could finally see myself for what I was, an arrogant, petulant child. It was a harsh realisation, but one that was vital if I was to recover for the nightmarish world of alcoholism. I wrote down all the little things but wanted to keep a few big resentments to myself, there were some things that I was convinced that I would never tell another living soul.And then I drank, full of arrogance, dishonesty and self-pity.
This relapse was a living hell, I was trapped, I knew there was a way out but I lacked the courage to fully surrender myself to this program. It was a lonely place to be. I had a small window of opportunity, where I knew that this disease would kill me, and it wouldn’t be quick, it would be torture. I was afraid. I realised that I didn’t want to die, I wanted to live, and I would do anything. I wrote down the worst of the worst on a piece of paper and found my sponsor and presented it to him. He read it without raising an eyebrow and told me that I was just an average alcoholic. A sick man yes, but there was an answer. A wave of relief washed over me, I had told someone the very worst of me and I was still welcomed as a member of AA. What a wonderful thing. I finished my step 4, fearlessly and thoroughly.
My step 5 lasted for 10 hours and was completed in one sitting. Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I cringed, and sometimes I mumbled whilst sliding down my chair, but it was completed. On leaving, my sponsor told me to read a passage in the book, and I did so. It is hard to describe my feeling over the next few days, but the word that seems closest is free, I felt free for the first time in my life. I could hold my head up and go toe to toe with life, on life’s terms. Amazing, for a hopeless alcoholic of my type, by rights I should be dead or locked up, but here I was on my way to recovery. I started working with newcomers, an act that has saved my life more times than I can count.
Today, I have had the privilege to make amends to my wife and family. What an incredible thing! My life is great, I’m sober and happy, two things that I honestly believed would never go together. I may not get everything that I want, because that’s just not the way life is, but I always get what I need. I’m far from perfect, but I persevere. AA and the 12 steps have saved my life, and transformed it into something worth holding on to. I’m a good son, my parents are proud of me, I am a responsible husband and father, I have better relationships with everyone, and as long as I remember that it is not me that has accomplished this I will be alright. I am a grateful, happy customer of Alcoholics Anonymous, and God willing, always will be.
Andy R, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth